General Info > News Releases > Archived Releases 2006-07 > 2006-07-31: Students Lobby Washington for Financial Aid Changes
News Release – August 2, 2006
MENDOCINO COLLEGE, 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
Contact: Ross Beck, Director of Public Information & Marketing
T: 707-468-3012, Fax: 707-468-3008, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
First photo: Back row (left to right): Aura Thomas, Travis Breznak, Spencer Young, Laurel Felt, Senator Diane Feinstein, Assistant Dean Jacque Bradley, and Jason Brisnero. Front row (left to right): Zoe Richmond, Patrick Welsh, and Jaclyn Vogel.
Second photo: (left to right) Assistant Dean Jacque Bradley, Travis Breznak, Jaclyn Vogel, Senator Mike Thompson, Patrick Welsh, Jason Brisnero, Zoe Richmond, Laurel Felt, Spencer Young and Aura Thomas.
Mendocino College Students Lobby in Washington
Seek Changes in Financial Aid
UKIAH, CA — Eight Student Senators from the Associated Students of Mendocino College (ASMC), accompanied by Assistant Dean Jacque Bradley went on a legislative lobbying trip to Washington, DC in May of this year.
Participating students were Spencer Young-ASMC Vice President (President elect), Jaclyn Vogel-ASMC Student Trustee, Lauren Felt-ASMC Treasurer, Travis Breznak-ASMC Ukiah Representative, Zoe Richmond-ASMC Willits Representative, Patrick Welsh-ASMC Student Rights Advocate, Jason Briseno-ASMC Student Ambassador, and Aura Thomas-ASMC Lake Representative.
Prior to leaving Ukiah, the students studied issues that were important to them and chose two main issues for which to gather petition signatures and discuss with their legislative representatives. The first issue was their concern over the federal determination of twenty-four as the age of independence for purposes of financial aid. The students requested it be lowered to age 21.
“What this means,” states Spencer Young, “is that, when filling out a Federal Assistance Financial Aid Applications (FAFSA), you are considered a dependent of you parents until you are 24, meaning you have to claim their earnings and assets even if you are not receiving money from them. The exceptions being if you were a ward of the state, a member of the armed services, married, or have dependents of your own that you support.
The second issue was the fact that the Pell Grant funding had not been increased in four years. They recommended that steps be taken to gradually return the funding to purchasing levels comparable to those of 2001 and then tie Pell Grant funding to the Consumer Price Index so that increases would be automatic and not require annual legislation to change.
“We spent a lot of time researching Pell Grants,” states Young. “The maximum amount awarded on a Pell Grant is $4,050 annually; this amount has not been changed since 2003. We proposed, through our petitions, that the Pell Grant be tied to a measure of inflation, such as the Consumer Price Index.
The students met with the Chief Legislative Aides on Education for both Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. They also met Congressmen Thompson and attended a constituency breakfast where they met Diane Feinstein. They all participated in the meetings with the legislative aides and presented copies of petition signatures that they had gathered. In addition to visits on the Hill, the students got in a tour of the Capitol, visits to several Smithsonian Museums, the Supreme Court and Library of Congress.
Young notes that, “We were very well received and encouraged to keep on lobbying, especially at a state level We were given tours of the capitol building by Senator Feinstein’s staff, where we were able to sit in the Senate and House Gallery and listen to representatives speak on immigration laws.”
“Overall, the group did extremely well with the responsibilities they were given. I was pleased with the immediate outcome. We won’t be able to see how effective we are until next years session begins. “
# # # #
Created: July 31, 2006 @ 02:38 PM
Last Modified: August 01, 2006 @ 08:11 AM